Step aside, AirPods.  There's a new ANC champion in town

Step aside, AirPods. There’s a new ANC champion in town


  • Noise cancellation quality is unmatched
  • The Simple Touch function is intuitive and effective
  • Holds comfortably in the ear for hours
  • The app has an adjustable equalizer for a personalized listening experience

The inconvenients

  • Poor microphone quality
  • Bulky design and charging case
  • Having to navigate the app for optimal use

September was a big month for wireless headphones. Apple was in the forefront of Samsung after the release of the Galaxy Buds 2 Propositioning the Airpods Pro 2 as flagship buds to beat. And now Bose is here to play… and it’s not just the second.

With the big three brands and more vying for a place in your ears, the heated competition brings a host of new technologies and improvements for all consumers to enjoy. With Bose’s QuietComfort II headphones, the company is banking on the supremacy of active noise cancellation (ANC) to succeed.

I’ve been testing out the QuietComfort II headphones over the past week, doing my share of subway rides in ever-bustling New York City, working in a high-energy newsroom environment, and exercising in a gym. sportsman who insists on putting Ed Sheeran on repeat. On almost every front, these headphones aren’t just trailblazers, they’re in a league of their own.



Four in each earbud


Earbuds: 1.2 X 0.68 inches

Charging box: 2.6 X 2.34 inches


Bluetooth version 5.3


Up to 6 hours on a single charge | earphone charger duration: 1 hour | charging time: 3 hours


Headphones: IPX4

Bluetooth range

Up to 30 feet


iPhone, iPad and Android devices through the Bose Music app. Manual configuration available for macOS and PC devices.


Triple black and soapstone



Design and fit

Let’s get to the obvious: these headphones sound their part and look their part too. The QuietComfort II headphones don’t have the “cut-in-ear” look that AirPods have, or the trendy pebble-like shape of Google and Samsung. Instead, they look rectangular and look more like old-school Bluetooth headphones. This means the buds are a bit bulky in the ear but distinctive and practical. Unlike the AirPods Pro 2 which just latch onto my ear, the Bose fit perfectly inside.

bose quietcomfort II headphones and case

Bose QuietComfort II headphones outside the charging case.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

The interior design closely mimics the shape of a typical ear canal, helping to lock in both earphones and sound. Like a piece of a puzzle, the earbuds fit snugly in the ear without the need for constant adjustment. For added comfort – hence the namesake – each earbud is fitted with a soft eartip around the innermost speaker and a soft stability band that tapers the outer earpiece. The ear tips and surrounding cushion come in large, medium, and small sizes, which I was particularly excited about. Everyone’s ears are different, after all.

With in-ear headphones, there can be noticeable pressure building up in the ears after wearing them for hours. Surprisingly, the QuietComfort headphones were less intrusive than other wearables I tested, and there were many times when I felt so immersed in the passive noise cancellation that I unintentionally ignored my boss’s greetings. (Sorry Jason!)

After: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2: The best headphones for Galaxy users

A touchpad that works…almost too well

The wide surface area of ​​the headphones isn’t just for looks; it also serves as a touchpad for controls and gestures. I find this feature especially useful when I’m dragging errands around town and just need to tap the earbuds to play, pause, skip, or even answer phone calls.

Actions only require a soft touch to play and pause, and when I scroll up and down, the volume adjusts precisely – one notch at a time. The only “negatives” I’ve encountered with the touchpad are due to user error more than anything else. I have a habit of resting my hand on the side of my face when concentrating and often found myself accidentally pausing the sound. If you’re a natural palm rest like me, be warned about touchpad sensitivity.

put the Bose QuietComfort II headphones into the charging case

ZDNET’s Emery Wright puts the headphones back in their heavyweight charging case.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

A large case to recharge

One design choice that I don’t like the most is the charging case. It’s a big pod, especially compared to almost every other wireless earbud case I’ve used. Of course, I can put it in a back pocket or a backpack. But if you usually slip your headphone case into your front pocket, don’t expect to have room to store anything else. Aside from the bulk, I actually found the Bose case easier to find than, say, the AirPods Pro 2 case, especially when I’m fishing around my bottomless backpack or the depths of my sofa cushion. The larger case also lends itself to higher battery capacity for charging.

More: The 5 best wireless headphones

Performance and sound quality

Now the question of the hour: how do these headphones sound? As a (new) sound snob, the Bose QuietComfort IIs are the best I’ve heard. So much so that after receiving them, I forced everyone I interacted with to slip on the headphones, listen to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” and enjoy the clarity and rumble of the opening synthesizers. . In fact, ZDNET’s Sabrina Ortiz described the sound quality as “club in my ears”.


Bose QuietComfort II headphones in the charging case.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Bass is noticeable and heavy by default, but you can also use the Bose Music app to adjust EQ for all frequencies. What impressed me the most about Bose’s audio performance was how even after turning up the base levels, other instruments and vocals weren’t blown out. The same goes for adjusting the volume. Dialing up didn’t necessarily cause the output to sound weaker, and dialing down didn’t worsen overall clarity.

next-level ANC

For the ultimate QuietComfort experience, you’ll want to toggle on “Quiet Mode,” Bose’s interpretation of active noise cancellation. Once turned on, your surroundings go into silent mode and the song, movie or even audiobook you’re listening to takes center stage. At only half volume, I couldn’t even hear the conversations happening a few feet away or the constant soundtrack of New York chaos from outside my window. The audio and my thoughts are at the forefront of my mind and ears.

Bose says it can achieve such a feat thanks to its “CustomTune technology”. The sound test plays a chime in your ears, which is picked up by the microphones and gives the headphones an idea of ​​the shape of your ear canal. From there, the ANC is tailored to how your ears pick up sound.


Confirmed: Headphones can block out New York’s signature “bustle and bustle” sound.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

The Bose Music app lets you set several “modes” where you can adjust the noise cancellation levels to suit your needs. Personally, I drown out the sound of the treadmill when I run, so I have a “training mode” that turns the noise cancellation to almost full capacity.

There’s also a default “aware mode” that’s similar to “transparency mode” on competing headphones. While the setting reduces ANC just enough for ambient listening, I found myself turning the volume down enough – usually two to three notches – to fully hear someone talking to me or the subway driver announcing stops.

Also: The best headphones you can buy right now

Microphone quality

For me, my family, and co-workers, almost all of our phone or Zoom calls are filtered through wireless headphones. This makes good microphone quality a must for me. Unfortunately, this is where Bose’s headphones let me down. Not only did I have to crank my volume up to near maximum to hear my phone calls – regardless of the setting – every person I called had trouble hearing me due to volume issues or headphones picking up too much background noise. .

Better than the AirPods Pro 2?

Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 debuted just two days after the Bose QuietComfort II headphones went on presale. Naturally, there will be a comparison, and I’ve had the chance to test both lately.

For me, the AirPods Pro 2 do two things better: transparent mode and microphone quality. While “awareness mode” on Bose headphones is fine, AirPods’ transparent mode lets you hear both sound and your surroundings clearly and without drastically adjusting the volume. Although the AirPods’ microphone quality isn’t perfect, it filters out background noise better and captures more lively sound.

In all other camps, Bose takes the cake. Sound quality and noise cancellation are more sophisticated, making every synthesizer tone and every frequency flowing in and out seamlessly sizzle in your ears. If you just need to drown out distractions, the QuietComfort II earphones offer the comfort and quality that Apple has yet to achieve.

Exam: AirPods Pro 2 offers two big upgrades but the connectivity chaos hasn’t been tamed


In a hotly contested wireless headphone market, Boses’ latest contribution – the QuietComfort II headphones – combine comfort and quality while setting a new benchmark for active noise cancellation. While these might not have the best microphone quality or a case that doesn’t protrude from your pants, once you slip the buds on you’ll be enveloped in an audio experience that makes the flaws a bit more forgiving.

Alternatives to consider

Besides the Bose QuietComfort II headphones, here are the wireless headphones you should consider:

#Step #AirPods #ANC #champion #town

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